Aussie politicians commit to saving national park
CANBERRA — Both of Australia’s major political parties have pledged more than $144 million to breathe new life into Kakadu National Park.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison visited Jabiru, a fledgling town in Kakadu, at short notice on Sunday to announce a $155.9 million rescue package for both the town and the park.
Morrison’s announcement came only hours before Bill Shorten, leader of the opposition Australian Labor Party, arrived in the Northern Territory (also known as NT) to announce his own $158.8 million package for Kakadu.
Jabiru’s future has been uncertain since it was announced that the nearby Ranger uranium mine would close in 2021 but Morrison said the additional funding would “future proof” the remote town.
“We want to ensure Kakadu and Jabiru and all the families and jobs they support are set for the future,” he told reporters on Sunday.
“Better services and infrastructure for Kakadu will mean more visitors and that means more jobs not just for Jabiru, but for the whole territory.”
The NT government and Gundjeihmi in July 2018 revealed a $321.9 million plan to transform Jabiru into a tourism hub at the heart of the iconic national park. However, the plan was largely dependent on federal government funding.
Both the government and opposition’s funding packages include major improvement to Kakadu’s road networks, camping grounds and walking paths.
“As a father, I want my children to take their children to this stunning piece of our country,” Shorten said.
“I know there’s been a great deal of work done by the NT government to improve tourism in Kakadu and help Jabiru transition from mining to tourism.”
The number of annual visitors to Kakadu has fallen from approximately 300,000 in the 1980s to 185,000 per year.